Thursday, April 26, 2012

Strange Cravings...

Sometimes, I love being pregnant. It's obviously not all fun and games, but one of the best parts is being able to give into cravings once in a while. I like singing "Straaange craavings" to the tune of "Strange Magic" as I rummage through the fridge for pickles or cheese sticks.

One of the strongest cravings I've been having is lemonade... I want lemonade all day, every day. If you follow me on Pinterest, you may notice that my recipe board is now chock-full of lemonade recipes. It's the pregnant-ladies cocktail, y'all. 

This version was made with frozen raspberries, fresh lemons, and mint. It was SO good. I actually woke up in the middle of the night and had to chug a big glass of it. Mmmmm. 

Some other recipes I have found include lavender lemonade, sweet basil lemonade, blueberry mint lemonade, and regular lemonade with edible flowers (so pretty!). Instead of posting them all here, I will just link to my recipe page on Pinterest so if you want to check them out you can! With Summer just around the corner, an arsenal of lemonade recipes will come in handy. =)

Anyone else have strange cravings when they were pregnant?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Homemade Aioli Sauce

My favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities, Barbette, has the best pomme frites (french fries) I have EVER tasted. As a bit of a french fry connoisseur, I have sampled many fries. Theirs have the perfect amount of flavor, a dark golden, crunchy exterior, a fluffy interior, and are small enough that they actually stay crunchy instead of getting soggy. But perhaps my favorite part of their pomme frites is the sesame aioli sauce that they serve on the side. It is, in a word, divine. (ok, is anyone else hungry for french fries now? Sorry).

So, last weekend, I decided that I really needed some fries with aioli. I knew that I was going to fail miserably at making fries like Barbette, so I decided to focus on the sauce instead. I have never tried making this sauce before, but when I found a recipe online I realized that I had all the ingredients on hand. And it looked rather simple! The recipe is from Epicurious.

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Mince the garlic and the salt together to form a paste (a butter knife or the back of a spoon works well). In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard. Combine the oils and begin to slowly add into the egg mixture, whisking the whole time. The mixture should start to emulsify, if it doesn't, stop adding oil and just whisk until it comes together again. Once the oil is all added, whisk in the garlic paste. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 1/2 hour before serving.

Aioli sauce is also wonderful with egg dishes, on sandwiches, burgers, and fish. There are so many uses for this flavorful, tangy sauce! I think I will be making it quite often.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mail Center

We had a space on the wall between our kitchen and dining room that was just begging for something. I was also starting to get annoyed with our calendar being perched on the countertop (see picture above). It was starting to feel really cluttered, but since we use the calendar all the time it needed to be somewhere easily accessible. After I found a wire storage unit at Marshalls a while ago, a plan started to formulate... we needed a mail/organization center! 

It didn't take long to hang up the wire baskets, and the calendar was a cinch as well. For the calendar, which did not have any hanging device, I just hot-glued a bent paper-clip to the back. It works really well! 

I also added two extra dots of glue to the bottom two corners to help keep the calendar straight and level on the wall. 

Now, our mail has it's very own place to live. I love the wire mesh, but it was looking a little messy from the front when you could see all the various papers. So, I added in some cute Amy Butler paper that coordinates with our dining room hutch. Perfection!

It's so nice to have the calendar in plain view (it was a $2.50 purchase from Target a year ago- best $2 I have ever spent!). Plus, when I want to write on it, I can just pop it off the wall with no trouble at all. I'm glad I went the paper-clip route rather than using something more permanent!

I hemmed and hawed about the height to put the wire thing at, but finally decided that this was the right height. I wanted to make it level with the green cabinet, but it was just too low. If I made it level with the kitchen cabinets, it would be too high! So, I decided to go with the height of the basket for a little bit of visual continuity. I think it works ok! 

Now the kitchen counter feels less cluttered, and our mail and various papers have a cute little place to be stored. Getting organized feels great! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

One Baby Step...

This weekend was jam-packed with goodness. I just love weekends like that! Friday night we got to hang out with Nick and Cindy and made grilled pizza for the first time this year! Yummm.

Saturday, we got all gussied up and headed to a beautiful wedding for some friends of ours. Get this: the groom is my brother's best friend, and he met his now-wife through E-harmony, and she happened to be the daughter of my aunt's best friend. Weird, huh? I love how you find random connections with people like that.

This is dorky, but I just have to say that I was super excited to be able to wear this dress. I bought it at Anthropologie in December and wasn't sure if it would fit me with the baby bump. But it did! And I felt great in it! 

Here's a closer pic of the bump:

On Sunday, we went to church and then went to my parent's house for the afternoon. Josh sold his motorcycle (so sad), and we also bought a crib the same day! So that's the "Baby-Step" we took this weekend. =) We now have a car seat, stroller, a few stuffed animals, and a disassembled crib. We are so set for this baby!  

Here's the pic from the Craigslist ad. It's a white sleigh-bed style crib. I love it! It needs some work, definitely a new paint job, but it was $40 and it's solid wood. Score!

The people we bought the crib from lived just a few miles away from my Grandparents, so we stopped by their house for some tea afterwards. They had not seen me since Christmas, so I got to show off the baby bump again. 

We just felt so blessed this weekend and were reminded greatly of God's provision in our lives. How was your weekend?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Fashionable Bump

Let's face it... everyone says pregnant women have this "glow" and are just sooo beautiful and perfect, but dressing a baby bump is really awkward. Don't get me wrong, this little tummy of mine gives me a smile every time I look down, but it's just the "finding clothes that actually fit right" part that is a challenge. Even some maternity clothes are infernally uncomfortable.

But, I refuse to wear sweatpants for 9 months, so instead I'm learning how to frugally and fashionably dress my (so far just a mini) baby bump.

I've definitely learned a few things even in just my few months of pregnancy, so here they are in no particular order. 

1. Remove clothes that don't fit from your closet. Right away, I decided to go through my closet and get rid of everything that didn't fit. I got tired of wading through my hefty wardrobe in order to find things that fit me and felt good. I figured, if it doesn't fit me now, what's the point of having it take up visual space and make it more difficult to find things that do fit?  The result was that I ended up with only 25% of my original wardrobe. Ouch. But, it's a lot easier to get dressed knowing that that 25% fits me well.

2. Shop for a few key maternity pieces. There's no reason to buy a huge new wardrobe of all maternity clothing (unless you have the moolah and the desire to do so, of course). I get sick of my clothes really easily, so I decided from the start to invest in mostly the basics. For me, that means buying maternity jeans and pants, and a few shirts, and then making do with the rest.

3. Make your wardrobe work for you!  It doesn't have to be labelled "maternity" in order for it to fit! I tried on all of my regular tops to find ones that were roomy enough and looked good. The key is to only keep back the ones that make you feel good. I did have a few tops that still fit, but just weren't flattering, so off to the storage bin they went. Also- I've been continuing to wear some of my regular pants with the help of a belly band and the good old hair-tie through the button-hole trick.

4. Cardigans, flyaway sweaters, and belts are your friend. Oh my goodness, I don't know what I would do without these 3 things. Thank goodness the open-sweater-with-belt look is so in style right now! It can elevate a plain t-shirt into an adorable outfit, or make a dress even cuter (and warmer).

5. Goodwill's Maternity section really sucks. Pre-baby-bump I had dreams of going thrifting and finding tons of adorable maternity clothes. Not so, unfortunately. I found that every GW I visited had such a small section of maternity-wear, and most of it was size 18 +. What I have found to be helpful instead is searching for flowy tops, and open sweaters and cardis. I was happy to purchase my jeans new anyways, but I have heard from friends that Turn-Style or other consignment-type shops usually have a wealth of gently-used maternity clothing.

6. Put your creativity/sewing skills to use! Ok, I know that not all of us like to sew, but for me this was a no-brainer. I love to hack my wardrobe to make it work for me, and even buy clothes that don't fit with the intention of taking them in. So when I found this tutorial for making maternity jeans out of a regular pair of jeans, I got super excited. I had a pair of jeans that had never fit me quite right, and were in fact waiting to go to GW. Instead, I pulled them out and tried my hand at converting them. It worked! They are super comfy (albeit a bit big right now) and were a cinch to make.

Since I can't (and frankly, don't want to) DIY everything, here's a few of the pieces I have invested in so far:

1. Old Navy tee I actually have a different color that's no longer in stock, but I love this tee. It fits so well with the side ruching and has plenty of room to grow!

 2. Smooth panel skinny jeans. I originally thought these would be the most comfortable, but it turns out I was wrong. They are comfy and they fit pretty well, but the panel is a little annoying. It gives you a bit of a line where the panel ends, plus they feel kind of restricting at times. However, I plan to wear the heck out of 'em and get my money's worth anyway!

3. Floral top This was a gift from my MIL- what a sweetheart! At first glance I didn't think this shirt would be a good purchase, but once I put it on I was sold. It is so flattering and comfortable. It will be perfect for the long Summer months! 

4. Low-rise boot-cut jeans I was surprised at how comfortable these are compared to the smooth panel jeans- wowza! They are so freeing, and give plenty of space for a growing belly. The only downside I've noticed is they tend to go down in the back a bit when you sit down, but with all of the long maternity shirts I don't think this will be much of a problem.

Here's a list of the other purchases I've made so far:
  • A pair of $15 black yoga pants from Target (SO comfy, and even though they aren't maternity, they fit like a dream).
  • A light-weight heather colored sweater on clearance from Liz Lange Maternity (Target)- seen in the photos above. 
  • 4 extra-long cami's from Forever 21. Again, they aren't maternity, but they are long enough to qualify! Plus, then are under $4 each. Score!
  • This skirt  from Target, it's super comfy and I can wear it even when I'm not pregnant. 
  • A beautiful maxi dress (from Old Navy) that will also be wearable post-pregnancy. 
Other than those items, I've been using only what I had on hand! I'm sure I will need more pieces as I get bigger, but for now I feel like my wardrobe is definitely satisfactory.

Soo. Now it's your turn- do you have any maternity-style secrets to share with us? I would love to hear any tips you may have, or let me know if you have a question that I didn't answer! Us mommas got to stick together. =)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kleenex, anyone?

This post should be about some crafty project, or some insanely good recipe, or even some pictures that I found on Pinterest.. but it's not.

Instead, it is a picture of my cat.

She fell asleep like this last night while we were eating dinner. It's her "come show me some love" pose, but since we were eating and didn't feel like getting cat hair all over our hands, we didn't acquiesce. So she got bored and took a nap instead.

The reason this picture of a napping cat will have to suffice, is that I am suffering from yet another sinus infection. My wonderful doctor was not available, so I saw a different doctor today who informed me that "only a small percentage of people actually contract real sinus infections," and sent me away with a lame-o nasal spray instead of antibiotics. I kind of wanted to shake her and say "My sinuses are on FIRE, I've used 1,000 kleenex in 3 days, my eyeballs feel like they've been dipped in Wasabi sauce, and my head is going to explode in a million bits if you don't give me REAL MEDICINE!" But instead, I calmly nodded as she explained that antibiotics can be too harmful for pregnant women (then why did my regular OB say that they are perfectly fine last time?).

I'm pretty sure that I know the different between a sinus infection and a common cold (it's like the difference between a blazing inferno and bunnies jumping through a fluffy field right now), but who am I to argue with a doctor?

Anyway, this is in no way meant to be a complaining session. I love being pregnant, and if this is the only thing I have to deal with then hey... I'm going to be ok. But really, what was up with that doctor?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Livin' it Up, 90's style!

Last weekend, Josh and I attended a late 80's/early 90's dance party. Wowza. It was a lot of fun (even though I couldn't participate in the dancing so much), and I don't remember ever having hair that big.

I used a 3 barrel curling iron, an entire can (travel sized) of extra-strong-hold hairspray, and plenty of ratting to get my hair back to the 90's rocker chick look. By the time we got to the party though, my hair had flattened. I said to Josh "My hair just isn't big enough!" Then, I had a moment of silence as I realized that that was how women who lived through that era felt all the time. Never enough hairspray, never enough height to their crimped bangs. What a tragedy. Thankfully, my sister Elsie came to the rescue and brought my hair back to 90's glory.

Josh though- he really rocked the look. He wore his leather biker jacket, plaid shirt, aviators, converse sneakers and a leather half-glove. His hair stayed big all night! Not fair.

Have you ever revisited a decade that you lived through? It's funny to think that in the early 90's I was still in grade school and wearing as many neon colors as possible every day. I do remember wishing I could wear the ginormous hairdos of the day. The older women all seemed so glamorous with their gold bangles, hoop earrings, and gigantic hair... Speaking of glamour, Glamour Shots were all the rage back then. Did you ever get a Glamour Shot of yourself?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Best Cookies

 I'm not normally a huge fan of sweets. I do eat them and enjoy them on occasion, but most of the time I would prefer a pickle over something sweet. However... the one sweet thing I can always tolerate is a good molasses/ginger/spice cookie!

This recipe was given to me by my Aunt a few years back, and I make them frequently. The only complaint I have about this recipe is that it just doesn't make enough! They are always gone within a day or two, even when I double the recipe.

It makes the perfect, delicate, chewy ginger cookie. Trust me on this, you have to try it to believe it!

Molasses Spice Crackles

Makes: about 2 dozen small cookies, recipe can be easily doubled to make more. 

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
2 tbsp molasses
1 large egg white
1/4 cup sugar (to roll cookies in)

1. Combine first 6 ingredients. Stir well, set aside. Place brown sugar, margarine, molasses, and egg white in mixer and mix well. Add dry ingredients and process until well blended. Refrigerate approximately two hours (longer is fine, but don't skimp on the time!).

2. Set oven to 375 degrees.

3. Shape dough into small (no more than 1 inch round) balls. Roll the top in sugar, and place on a baking sheet 3 inches apart. Bake for approximately 7 minutes. (Tip: These cookies taste better slightly underdone and will keep their chewy texture better!).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dinner on the Porch

Last week, Josh and I had our first meal outside! It was wonderful. With the warm, Spring-y weather we've been having lately, it's been so nice to spend extra time in the great outdoors. This meal was extra fun because I used two recipes that I found on Pinterest.

I've heard of so many people who are constantly pinning things but never trying them... it's totally different for me! I love pinning recipes and I'm constantly going through them and making new things.

I made Curried Carrot Soup with Ginger using this recipe. I have to admit, at first it didn't sound that good. But this soup was seriously awesome! Plus, I didn't feel guilty about not having veggies on the side, since they were already in the soup. Niiice.  

The other recipe I used was this Blueberry Mint Lemonade concoction. Except I kinda cheated and didn't follow the recipe, I just used my good old fashioned lemonade recipe and added dried mint leaves from our garden last year and some blueberries. It was fantastic. I've been pinning TONS of recipes for unique lemonades since I won't be able to enjoy my favorite summer beverage this year: Sangria. I hope you all feel really bad for me.  

The final part of our meal (and probably my favorite) were homemade green onion and cheddar cheese biscuits. YUM. I just make a normal biscuit recipe (from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook) and add in garlic, chopped green onions, and about 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. They are so yummy. Josh eats like 10 of them in one sitting. I only eat 9.

 It was such a fun dinner and really felt like a "date." I love at-home dates!

How have you been enjoying your Spring so far?

P.S. sorry about the huuuge break from blogging... what can I say. I'm exhausted from this little peanut growing inside! I think it's sucking the life from me. It's ok though, it's all for a good cause! =)


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